Food system reform is a hot topic. It is essential that agriculture changes, if we are to successfully tackle the environmental and social challenges we face.
As a permaculture designer, I often focus on the basics – energy use, water, fertility… But as we develop sustainable growing systems, we need to recognise that while we can definitely learn from our ancestors, we don’t have to stick to merely mimicking what has come before.
Drones and other smart technologies can play a key role in finding a pathway forwards for farmers and food producers. Innovation can sometimes help to to work with nature in more effective ways.
Drones return data that can allow farmers to optimise farming practices on existing agricultural properties – from monitoring plant health, to working out what to seed where, to creating plans for optimal watering and fertilisation.
More than this, however, drones can also be used to find new and exciting ways to improve land. They can help find new ways to farm in more sustainable and ecologically sensitive ways. Farmers and land owners looking to future-proof their farming endeavours are increasingly turning to drone technology to help them develop landscape scale sustainable designs.
And drones are just one example of agriculture 4.0 technologies. As farmers and growers consider and embrace new innovations and technologies, it is, of course, crucial that overall sustainability is taken into account. (We need to think about materials used in drones and other technologies and where they come from.)
We may be unhappy with much in the modern world – technology can bring many negatives for people and planet. But it is important to recognise the good in innovation too. It will certainly continue to play and greater and greater role in the future of farming.
It’s up to us to embrace it where possible, but to always keep sustainability in mind as we do. We can selectively embrace innovation to get closer to truly fair, ethical and sustainable food systems on this planet.